Days after threatening to withhold federal funds from California as it battles deadly wildfires, President Donald Trump will be making a visit to the state to visit some of the people affected, the White House announced.
The wildfires in California – the deadliest in the state’s history – were the focus of criticism over the weekend by the president, who placed blame for the fiery devastation on poor forest management.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted while he was in Paris. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
His tweet was met with swift backlash.
California’s Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom slammed the president’s reaction on Twitter as “partisanship.”
“Lives have been lost. Entire towns have been burned to the ground. Cars abandoned on the side of the road. People are being forced to flee their homes. This is not a time for partisanship,” Newsom tweeted. “This is a time for coordinating relief and response and lifting those in need up.”
Over the past few days, the president said he was monitoring the fires in California. But while he has visited several places affected by hurricanes, the president did not visit California in the wake of the Tubbs fire in Santa Rosa, California, which killed 22 people, or the Montecito mudslides, which killed 21 people and damaged more than 500 buildings and homes.
Trump addressed the wildfires at a Diwali ceremonial lighting of the diya on Tuesday.
“We mourn the lives of those lost and we pray for the victims. And there are more victims than anybody would ever even think possible,” Trump said. “I want to thank the firefighters and FEMA and first responders for their incredible courage in the face of very grave danger.”
And, despite threatening not to give California any federal funding to fight the fires, the president signed a disaster declaration.
“We will do everything in our power to support and protect our fellow citizens in harm’s way,” Trump said. “That’s a very tough situation.”